Life Without Parole – Limbo

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About Spoon Jackson

Poet/writer/artist/teacher. In prison since 1977. I had two books published in 2010 “Longer Ago Poems by Spoon Jackson” and “By Heart Poetry, Prison, And Two Lives”, a double memoir by Judith Tannenbaum and me. I've been featured in films, plays, articles, books and music suites. I've found my niche in life despite being in prison for over 35 years. I have found that prisons are created internally and are truly found everywhere. I have also discovered that the secrets to break down prison walls are inside each person and I treasure sharing this realness with people. I keep my light glowing through expressing my inner thoughts, vibes and feelings in my poetry and prose writing. Write to me! Address on the blog: Spoon Jackson Realness Network.


  1. Madeleine says:

    I am not in jail, never been, but strangely enough I know how you fell. My dream in life was to know love. I thought I was to damaged to attract a good man, so I worked on myself, from therapy to meditation for 35 years. Now I am whole but love never came, and meantime I have gotten old. I realized that wherever I am right now, is where with all likelihood I am going to spend the rest of my life. The only thing left to do is helping the body survive in a reasonable state of good health until its last day. I feel like a deer caught in the headlights, I am stunned at this turn of events, this lack of future.
    And yet, that is not it. Sometimes there is such breathtaking joy in picking up a pencil, such ecstasy in breathing, almost physical pleasure in noticing myself do something stupid and just let it happen without condemnation.
    I am very confused by these two extreme and opposite forces ruling my life. I don’t understand why I am in a body, living in this world, and yet so separate from it. Maybe it is not about living on the outside of oneself, taking from the world, but about living inside the body and giving to the world. I don’t know if I am making any sense. I am still trying to figure it out.

  2. Wirbelwind says:

    What did you do to earn life without parole ?
    And a “life sentence” resulting in 10 years behind bars is a mockery.

  3. Christine says:

    We are here with you, Spoon! Never under estimate the work “you” are doing to bring attention to this revenge sentence and human rights violation. Your exemplary life behind bars, a life of poetry, writing, music and teaching has demonstrated to so many the value of those left behind, that cannot be buried by the concrete cages they build, even though they try, your soul has burst through!

  4. hippiechick says:

    First, let me say I am actually very empathetic to your situation. I have always been opposed to the death penalty and feel it’s cruel and unusual punishment, but I never thought of LWOP that way. To me, it seemed like a fair alternative to living out your days on death row, and the constant stress of never knowing if or when that awful day would actually come. Thinking about it now, I think I would probably be okay if the man who killed my dad were released from prison in 30 years… but he would be 80+ then. If he had only been 25 at the time of the crime, and were to be released at 55, I think I might feel differently. My dad was only 64; he had plenty of good years left. It seems unfair that another man should be allowed to “enjoy” those years when my father cannot. Also, I wonder if your sentence had been “only” 30 years, do you think your time behind bars would have progressed in exactly the same way? Perhaps you were only able to make such an about face because you KNEW there was no hope otherwise. And I have no statistics to fall back on, but I have to believe that you are more of an exception that a rule as far as prison behavior is concerned. I do believe that our prison system is terribly flawed and also horribly skewed as far as race is concerned, but alas I have no answers whatsoever. I hope that you can continue to use your positive attitude and energy to make your punishment seem less cruel.

  5. Karen Bernal says:

    Spoon, please remember that those of us who have followed your story and books are with you! I admire your courage and want you to know that you should never, ever, feel unworthy. It makes me sad to know that a lot of people never seem to move beyond punishment – and yet we know that there is always a reality that has to come next. Our culture loves to hate, yet fears to experience redemption and forgiveness. My belief in the power of redemption is so strong, that I cannot imagine life without it – it is my religion. And the thing about it is that EVERYONE wants to be redeemed in their own lives – everyone. We only brutalize our selves when we deny it to others. I have no doubt in my mind that there are many in prison who go through epiphanies, self realizations and transformations. I think it’s immoral to not consider a person who does. I agree with Christine – keep the spirit going – you are in our thoughts.

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